Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stuff below the fold

The NYorker on small businesses and elite niches for their goods.

... Farmers who sell, say, organic or free-range foods, cannot hope to compete based on price. Instead, they try to create consumers who won’t eat chicken produced by big companies for moral, health, or aesthetic reasons.
yes, in a vibrant economy, we can sell our organic brown rice at a higher price to the up and coming middle class.

In a country with a free economy, we will thrive. The bad news is that the stress on organic means a lower total harvest.

However, the ordinary folks will continue to eat ordinary rice, much of it imported from countries that grow in bulk. And until the green movement acknowledges that without specialized seed, fertilizer, etc. that poor people will starve, they will alienate those of us who think that eating is a human right.

waitingForGodotToLeave post a video of a play based on Kreeft's Socrates meets Jesus.

posted for later viewing.


no links, but the Manila Bulletin insert of NYTimes news had an article on a "cholera clinic" just built in Haiti...for a huge price. Similarly, a recent article bragged how typhoon proof homes could be built for only $4000. (uh, what kills folks is not collapsing houses, but storm surge, where you can drown inside your home). A third article about Liberia notes that the expensive clinics built by the US Army there to treat ebola are empty.

Reality check.
When we had a cholera epidemic in rural Zimbabwe, we were given a talk how to handle it: take over the local schools and use the rooms for cholera isolation wards. Schools had running water and toilets, a roof, and were usually built of concrete and easily cleaned.

So what about Haiti, where there were no buildings? the NYTimes article mentioned 800 dollars per square something or other for the new clinic and said it was a good price. Uh, that is one year's salary for poor people...maybe the money could have been used in a better way?

Well, one old book on how to run a clinic said just build using local methods. In east Africa, that meant poles covered by wattle, with clay/manure/termite mound cement floors and a tin roof, all of which was cheap. True, these would be destroyed in about five years by termites, but if you hired a man to spray the building regularly, it might last ten years, by which time you might be able to afford concrete blocks.

So a basic building would work fine.

In Africa, we had a full time Catholic brother who instructed locals to make bricks and build, so our hospital was concrete.

Here in the Philippines, as the area has gotten more affluent (thanks to land reform, the kids now are educated and working in Manila or overseas) so they now have basic concrete homes in the rural villages. The main problem with concrete is that you have to reinforce them with iron bars so they don't fall down in an earthquake, and if you have bars on the windows, you might drown in a storm surge. But they don't get eaten by termites.

 that hasn't stopped elites from hinting on how we can build elite houses with local bamboo... Again, think termites, or similar bugs that eat bamboo...Traditional houses are concrete bases with hard wood sides and a clay roof. However, thanks to illegal logging, buying new hard wood is impossible, and since we won't break the law, most of our wood is  used wood, or plywood.

The problem with elites is that they don't think cheap, or see the infrastructure that is there. So they push elite cooking and expensive solar stuff, ignoring that the infrastructure would allow LPG cooking (so the small trees are not destroyed to cook with).

one of the best ideas that actualy works was to insert a plastic bottle in the roof to allow in light for slum houses. Yes, that works, and is a variation of having part of our roof that is heavy clear plastic to allow in light.

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